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                            Review: Tiny Troops
                            By:  Ken Anderson 
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Cannon Fodder promised that "war has never been so much fun". Tiny Troops
declares that "war is fantastic". It may not be much fun in real life, but
it makes for great computer entertainment. 

The plotline we are offered is actually quite enjoyable:  two alien races
at war - the original reason for which has long since been forgotten -
discover their planet is on it's last legs, and won't stand up to much more
fighting.  So rather than stop the war - let's face it, we all enjoy a good
scrap now and again - they just parcel the whole thing up and move it to
another world.  Earth, to be precise.  No-one here notices because the
aliens are actually ant-sized.

The potential offered by this storyline is used to the maximum - all of the
action takes place on 65 different zoom-in sections of gardens, toy sets
and the ilk.  Anyone who remembers racing around the breakfast table in
Codemaster's classic Micro Machines will know the kind of fun that can be
had in the most unlikely places.

Fun, in fact, is the word that sums up Tiny Troops. Although Cannon Fodder
was rewarding and addictive, the difficulty curve was almost vertical; it
sometimes felt it would be easier in real life.  Tiny Troops never quite
gets to the stage where you stop having fun and start getting annoyed.

At the start of each level, you can choose your compliment for the battle
ahead. At first, you are only given a choice of foot soldiers, which can
shoot and run and not much else. Before long, you've got guys (or maybe
girls? It's hard to tell) armed with every kind of weapon or vehicle
available.

Once the fray starts, it's playing-God time again, as you give orders to
your troops. They can be commanded either individually or as a group to
attack the enemy, move to a certain position, build a set-piece defence
line, return to base for a energy top-up, or just rush in head first and
kick ass. The background doesn't always remain passive; certain objects can
be push around and manipulated; vital in some levels. Of course, your
opposition don't just sit around waiting for you to attack - they're
planning your fate too. The level is won by either destroying all the
enemy, or destroying their teleport base - sometimes it's easier to
distract the ground troops long enough for a few of your guys to wreck
their teleport.

Controls are simple, using the mouse and a simple icon setup which takes
five minutes with the manual to work out.  Things move at a reasonable
sedate pace; there's no frantic mouse wrestling required to get your team
doing what you want, which greatly contributes to the feeling you're having
a good time playing this game.  There's no direct humour, but stomping
across carpets and negotiating garden gnomes can't fail to raise a smile.

Tiny Troops might not appeal to the console-owning arcade freaks who demand
graphics rushing past on screen at a rate of knots, but I can
wholeheartedly recommend Tiny Troops to Cannon Fodder fans, and to anyone
with a strategic bent.  This is Vulcan's best release yet, and I hope that
we'll see Tiny Troops II before too long.

Pros: Thoroughly enjoyable arcade and strategy mix. Solid, steady pace and
lots of levels. Two-player mode.

Cons: Simple graphics which sometimes get a bit garish. The terminally
serious-of-thinking might find it all a bit twee.

Tiny Troops is priced at 17.99UKP (+ 2UKP for P&P outside the UK), and can be
ordered from:

Vulcan Software Limited
Vulcan House
72 Queens Road
Buckland
Portsmouth
Hants PO2 7NA
UK

http://www.vulcan.co.uk

The Vulcan line is distributed in the US by:
Sagittarius Software
1706 Canton Road
Akron, OH  44312
USA

800-426-7687 voice
sales@sagsoft.ald.net e-mail
http://sagsoft.ald.net/